My Shanghai: Tour Lee Mack's Favorite Spots

By Lee Mack 2023-08-03 15:50:59

Lee Mack is the Director of Communications at Dulwich College Shanghai Pudong. He’s lived in China since 1998 and, amazingly, still isn’t tired of it. Father to a 6-year-old boy, he has very little free time, but when he does, he can be found at one of these places. He loves those hidden gems that lurk in the dark corners forever left unilluminated by the WeChat posts of local listings magazines. Tour his favorite Shanghai spots.


Guyi Yuan

Out in Jiading is the garden and inside Guyi Yuan is a teahouse. I love this teahouse. The outdoor seating is great. There are two full-on porch swings. It sort of juts out into this pond and is surrounded by greenery and flowers and lilypads. Ducks paddle around. There’s even a working waterwheel. Before 10:30 a.m. it’s mainly grizzled locals sipping tea and sucking on the cancer sticks, after that it’s a Huang Changning quiet little teahouse in what is finest example of a Suzhou style garden. Plus the people who run it are nice.

Address: 218 Huyi Highway, Nanxiang Town,

Yaya's Restaurant


This restaurant is starting to pop up on the wanghong trail, but it’s been flying well under the radar for the last year. It’s got an amazing menu of Italian-Chinese fusion dishes - think mapo doufu lasagne-backed up by a quality list of affordable Italian wines. It’s one of those new-style chef owned and operated restaurants so it has a very intimate feel. It works for both date night or a random Monday with long-lost colleagues.The soundtrack is old school hip hop, but I
especially love what’s happening in the bathroom where you are encased in the lived in China since 1998 and, amazingly, still full lovely arms of Italian opera.

Address: 329 Tongren Road, Jing’an District


Donghai Coffee Shop


A hidden gem coffee shop that’s just steps from the Bund? Impossible! I sympathise with your skepticism, but this place is the real deal. Where to begin to explain the greatness of the Donghai? Let’s start in 1934 when this place was opened by a Russian Jew and was called Mars Cafe. It’s still there, same place, different name though,

The clientele is almost exclusively local middle-aged Shanghainese folks. Not exactly the people you’d expect to be hanging around Bund coffee shops. But it actually makes perfect sense. During the early days of New China the Donghai was one of the few places in Shanghai doing Western food. So that's how all the local oldsters know about it. It was closed for renovation for a decade and just re-opened in 2019. 

It's quite a scene, really. You won't hear much Mandarin spoken. And the food is good! Russian-inspired stuff - soups, sandwiches etc. A latte was 30 kuai. They have bottles of Napa Chardonnay for 200RMB. Don’t ever change, Donghai!

Address: 110 Dianchi Road, Huangpu District


Biyun Rowing Club


Hidden away in Jinqiao is the Biyun Rowing Club. You can rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards or you can just do like me and set up a canopy and make yourself at home along the grassy banks of the wonderful Zhangjiabang canal which runs through it. There are plenty of trees if you want to hang a hammock; I’ve even seen people set up full-size grills and do some grilling.

There’s a wonderful bike path which stretches in either direction for quite a ways and it’s smooth enough for roller- blades. Pro tip: they just finished connecting up that bike path to the Pudong Binjiang path so now you can start from the Biyun Rowing Club and follow the path all the way to the Bund. Fun times!

Address: 2498 Yunshan Road, Pudong New Area


Bunny Drop Cafe of the Huangpu River


This little cafe is on the Pudong side of the river, just north of the JW Marriott Marquis. It’s part of a row of about five or six cafes sitting cheek to jowl. Really any of them could qualify for this list, but I chose the Bunny Drop because it seems the most stable. The others seem to rebrand every six months.

Bunny Drop has indoor and outdoor seating. The outdoor seating affords pleasant river views and ample people watching. Coffee and passable lunch items and even a German wheat beer on the menu seal the deal. There are also a few rabbits in a cage which never fails to entertain kids for at least 15 minutes.

Address: 4606 Binjiang Avenue, Pudong New Area